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More air freight product in consumer packaging“We have noticed air freight is growing,” confirms Tom Gemels from Fresh Express. He manages the company with his business partner Jonathan Bouchat. The company organises flights from Liège Airport. “However, it’s difficult to say where the increase is coming from.” Many freight airlines know to find Liège Airport. The airport mostly focuses on managing freight, rather than passenger flights. “You can land there day and night, customs and inspections of the products are available 24 hours per day,” Tom sums up some of the most important advantages. Besides, the regulations, about the noise of airplane motors for example, are stricter at other airports.
In recent months, Tom has seen a shift in the way products arrive. Increasingly often it concerns packed, labeled and even priced articles. “Products are packed in the country of origin more often,” Tom explains. “Labour costs are lower there, so more companies have the products packed there.” In principle, the products can go directly from airport to supermarket. This saves money and time, Tom explains.
Supply per plane is currently declining. The seasonal peak is in November, when the low season starts in Southern Europe, and it becomes profitable to fly strawberries, beans and spring onions from, for example, Africa. Furthermore, during the summer months, the EU closes its borders for strawberries from Egypt, for instance. Avocados from Mexico are also flown. “We see Latin America strongly emerging, especially countries such as Chile, Ecuador and Mexico.”
The cooling in freight holds is done well nowadays. “Most modern airlines can cool the shipment to about 6 or 7 degrees,” Tom explains. “This is mostly important for long flights. When you have a four-hour flight from Egypt to the Netherlands, you could use refrigeration. It’s just to keep the temperature stable. Temperatures aren’t going to drop.” These flights are too short to really have consequences for temperature. The holds are full, so just as with a lorry, there’s not much circulation of air, according to Tom. During longer flights from, for example, Mexico, temperatures can play a part. “When you can load or place Perishables in cold stores directly after landing, it will have an effect.” Fresh Express manages about 800 tonnes of Airfreight Perishables at Liège Airport per week.
Tom Gemels & Jonathan Bouchat
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